In case you haven’t noticed or have chosen to ignore it, world order as we have known it is slowly disintegrating. I see it and yet I keep busy writing humor columns. Shouldn’t I be doing something to beat the drum for rescuing democracy, for resurrecting decency and preserving our planet? Yet on the eve of this New Year, I sit here wondering how I can bring out the humorous side of our impending doom.

There should be plenty of time for humor, as it’s looking like our passing won’t be a swift stroke by giant meteorite or apocalyptic coronal ejections from the sun. No, it looks like it’s going to be a slow-motion annihilation of civilization and everything we hold dear by the forces of man and nature. There should be a comfortable amount of time for joke telling and jovial requiem.

When I say slow-motion, I am referring to the human scale of experience and not the geologic scale. In geologic time, this entire disaster will be a mere blip on the timeline; a wafer-thin layer in the sediment of history. But for us living here on the planet, it should play out imperceptibly at first but inexorably build, perhaps over many generations, until the pitiless juggernaut of climate change, catalyzed by a denial of reason and science, combined with the failures of our economic, political and social models, runs right over us. It will change all the planet’s ecosystems and challenge whatever remains of the biosphere to adapt or forever perish.

You can re-read that last poetic part slowly or continue with this simpler wording: A whole bunch of stuff around the world is going wrong at the same time but in slow motion. We probably can’t get it together to stop it because we are human and, after all, we started it. Eventually everything about life on this planet will change. The remaining human race will have to transform in ways we cannot predict or, possibly, face extinction.

As far as the humor in it, I see the coming slide into oblivion as the golden age of irony.

At first, I thought it might be the age of comic exaggeration, as overstatement is a staple of comedy. Soon I realized that our destruction will be rampant with hyperbole and so exaggeration will lose its effectiveness. In the age of highest tides, biggest floods, worst weather, extreme drought, most migration, largest fires, greatest unrest, most serious shortages, record temperatures, largest loss of species and a continuing long list of superlatives, exaggeration won’t be funny.

Of course, it goes without saying that we’ll be awash in gallows humor. Somehow, in our bleakest times the hopelessness and absurdity of our situation seems funny. It’s really a desperate attempt to find joy in tragedy as much as it is to blow off steam in tense and terminal situations.

No, our demise will definitely be the golden age of irony. Situational irony, to be specific, where we had every intention of propagating our species forever and even to distant planets, yet every step of the way we created the conditions of our own demise.

Ironic because the same technology and science that brought us our great standard of living also raised the alarm decades ago of this slow-moving catastrophe. An alarm that we found easy to deny and ignore.

Irony because it comes with flashes of realization that we are both the victims and the cause of our predicament.

Our eventual ruin may also stand as the ultimate example of what is called “romantic irony.” I don’t quite understand romantic irony, but the comic irony here is that it doesn’t really matter. When we’re gone, no one will need an example of romantic irony. Isn’t that funny? Or, are we crossing over into the tragic?

There is the real possibility that the story of the human race may end as a tragedy instead of continuing on as comedy. That would be the ultimate tragedy — ah, there I go employing superlatives and exaggeration …

I am looking forward to the New Year as I have tired of typing out the year 2-0-1-9. I long for the swift efficiency of generating 2020 without having to think about the numerical format. And, it is the beginning of a new decade where we may possibly have a slim chance at controlling our destiny.

As individuals, we have little say in large matters, so let us choose our leaders wisely this year.